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Astronomer Edwin Hubble revolutionized the field of astrophysics. His research helped prove that the universe is expanding, and he created a classification system for galaxies that has been used for several decades.
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Edwin Hubble was born on November 20, 1889. He graduated from the University of Chicago and served in WWI before settling down to lead research in the field of astrophysics at Mount Wilson Observatory in California. Hubble's revolutionary work includes finding a constant relationship between galaxies' redshift and distance, which helped to eventually prove that the universe is expanding. Additionally, a classification system that he created for galaxies has been used by other researchers for decades,
now known as the Hubble sequence.
Born in Marshfield, Missouri on November 20, 1889, to father John Powell Hubble and mother Virginia Lee (James) Hubble, Edwin Hubble began reading science-fiction novels at a young age. One of his favorite books was Jules Verne's 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea.
In 1898, when he was 10 years old, Hubble and his seven siblings moved with their parents to Chicago, Illinois. There, Hubble attended high school and excelled at sports, particularly track and field—as a high school student, he broke the Illinois state high jump record.
Hubble received a scholarship to attend the University of Chicago in 1906. While there, he worked as a lab assistant under Robert Millikan, who later won a Nobel Prize for his work in the field of physics. After graduating in 1910, Hubble left Chicago and enrolled at the University of Oxford, where he studied law philosophy. He gradudated from the school three years later, obtaining a bachelor's degree in jurisprudence. Around the same time, Hubble's father, John Hubble, died.
After a short stint teaching in Indiana, Hubble returned to the University of Chicago to study astronomy. Not long after, he was recruited by California's Mount Wilson Observatory to help complete the construction of its Hooker telescope. Before beginning the new position—which he excitedly accepted—Hubble completed a doctorate in astronomy, enlisted in the U.S. Army and served a tour of duty in World War I.
While working at Mount Wilson, Hubble proved that other galaxies existed outside of the Milky Way, where Earth is located, by taking photos through the observatory's Hooker telescope and comparing the varying degrees of luminosity among Cepheid variable stars. There had been no clear idea of the Milky Way's size at the time, and through his research, Hubble was able to estimate that the Andromeda Nebula (thought of simply as a spiral at the time) was nearly 900,000 light years away from the Milky Way, thus it had to be its own galaxy. The Andromeda Nebula was later proven to be much farther away, at nearly 2.48 million light years (through further analyses of the spacial indications of stars' light). The Andromeda Nebula has was also renamed the Andromeda Galaxy.
In the early mid-1920s, Hubble began conducting new research, along with fellow astronomer Milton Humason, on the galaxies' spectral shifts and unique distances, particularly looking at their relationship with the earth.
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